Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things you can never say in a yoga class

Flickr: o0bsessed
Running and yoga of some kind are part of my daily fitness 'regime' but as much as yoga has transformed my life and made me a better person, there are certain things that I just can't say in the 'niceness' of the atmosphere that permeates a yoga class. Of course I'm very grateful for that 'niceness' given the fact I was always picked last for kickball in second grade...

Some of these items on the list are tangentially related to food, hence my justification for posting them on the blog.

1. Some people have really annoying breathing.
Even if you've never taken a yoga class, you're probably aware of the fact that breathing is extremely important in yoga. If you look stressed or tense, people always tell you to 'take a breath,' and yoga teachers will say this frequently throughout the practice.  Often they will tell you to take five, even ten breaths.

Unfortunately, some people's yogic breathing sounds like the 'before' part of a cold medicine advertisement. And then there is the subset of annoying breathers--people who think they get extra gold star yogi points for talking to the people next to them about how much they are suffering, or grunting, which really sucks because sometimes I don't think something is particularly challenging, but if you hear someone complain about it enough, just touching your toes seems like an agonizing endeavor.

How do you know if you have annoying breathing?  Well, if you are in a yoga class, aren't one of my friends, and have a strange compunction to sit very, very close to me...

2. The odor of bacon and pancakes through the open window of the yoga studio smells awesome. 
My yoga studio is located near a coffee shop, a couple of burger and hot dog joints, a grocery store with a bakery, a pizza parlor, and a taco place. During the summer mornings, if the windows are open, about half-way through the practice, the heavenly aroma of pancakes frying in more butter than you could ever use in good conscience at home wafts up, followed by the odor of some frying pig product. In the evening, if we are very lucky, sometimes people grill steaks in their backyards.  You could be twisted into a pretzel and not feel a thing with the smell of a good, sizzling breakfast sandwich in the air.
Flickr: yakmoose

3. I would rather smell wet socks than incense.
Unfortunately, most of the year the windows are closed. While some teachers leave well enough alone, others seem to be compelled to burn questionable-smelling substances with names like 'white sage' and 'patchouli.'  Why, WHY must you tell me to breathe and then ruin all the nice clean air? After classes where the teacher burns lots of incense, I'm always afraid I'm going to be pulled over by a cop on the way home. "I haven't smoked anything, I swear officer, I've just been in a yoga class for the past 90 minutes!"

Of course, if they create incense that smells like pancakes and bacon, I might moderate my opinion...

4. The rules change
The teacher will always  say stuff  like 'honor your body' and it's okay to use 'props' (yoga blocks, straps, and blankets) if a really stiff athletic dude can't touch his toes.  However, if you are a small woman with no upper body strength like me, some yoga teachers will totally ignore you for the rest of class if you (Krishna forbid), use the wall as a 'prop' when practicing a handstand.  Because when it comes to the yoga poses the teacher really, really likes, it has nothing to do with your body, and if you just  had 'no fear,' then it would happen.

5. I really didn't progress in yoga until I cleaned up my diet, stopped eating processed soy burgers and started eating meat again.
'Nuff said. When I first started yoga, I had the body of a Tyrannosaurs Rex: skinny little chicken arms from never lifting anything heavier than five pounds.

6. Quite a lot of people do yoga because they think it will make them lose weight.
Yoga has helped me become much more physically proficient and active.  It's made me more coordinated, flexible, and much more fearless. However, it just doesn't burn as many calories as running, and that is just math.  Sometimes, some women will say to me, "oh, but you run," as if it is somehow not fair that they aren't getting the results they want with yoga, and because I also do other physical activities.  Yoga is awesome, but you don't have to treat it like your husband and be monogamous.  Enjoy doing other physical activities if you are that unhappy with your 'results,' don't complain about yoga. Oh, and yoga teachers who criticize running or other sports because it makes you tight and you can't get 'deeper' into certain postures?  I'm honestly okay with that.  If it takes me an extra couple of years to put my legs around my head because I run, so be it.  If I didn't run and ride and do other things, I wouldn't have come to yoga in the first place.

7. It's pretty weird that an ancient Eastern practice that begun with very poor men is now largely populated by white, upper middle-class women.
There is a lot of talk about how yogic people are 'taking it off the mat and taking it into the world,' but still, I'm occasionally struck to the extent to which some of the most fervent advocates of the 'simplicity' of yoga have quite a nice financial meditation cushion to sit on when doing the talking.  Of course, you have to have a certain level of wealth to pay a lot of money for a perfectly white painting.

8. Being vegan won't necessarily make you lose weight.
There is a ton of processed vegan junk food out there, and lots of people find that going vegan makes them much more hungry than eating meat and vegetables and not eating what is the mainstay of most vegan diets (wheat, soy, potatoes, starchy carbs). Now, there are some people who like being vegan and that's great, and there are some thin and healthy vegans.  But not all vegans and thin and healthy, and it seems weird to tell people that 'every person's body is different' when explaining why some people find some postures naturally easier than others...but then to turn around and say that the same diet can work for every human person on the planet.

9. Don't even get me started on Lululemon.
The most popular brand of yoga clothes, hands (upside) down in most of the yoga classes. Just sit back and count the omega labels between every woman's shoulder blades and on every yogi's butt. But  42.00 for a SPORTS BRA that you will sweat in?  Yes, the company promotes fitness, yoga, blah, blah, blah.  And I don't mind paying good money for a coat or pair of boots that will last a long time.  But if you're wearing a 42.00 sports bra that is going to last a few months because it gets nasty and sweaty...that brings me to No. 10

10. Some women like to flirt with the yoga teachers. A lot.
I honestly don't care, but can you please move your lululemons to the side so I can sign in and put down my mat in a place where I want to practice, away from the annoying breather (see No.1). Giggling during class, talking about your super-tight hips, and asking for an 'adjustment' (which keeps the rest of the class longer in a super-uncomfortable position) is a great way to bring bad karma onto the rest of the class as they think about how much they hate you.

11. Yoga has spawned some terrible, terrible writing. And because it's yoga, if someone posts an example on Facebook NO ONE can criticize it.
Google Elephant Journal and you'll see what I mean.

12. There is a yoga police.
Heaven forbid you say you like hot yoga, or want to be in a yoga competition, or are doing yoga for weight loss. Even though one of the founders of modern yoga, B.K.S Iyengar doesn't have a problem with competitive yoga, most people will act really, really shocked and say 'yoga isn't competitive,' or 'yoga isn't about fitness,'  or 'the asana practice is only a tiny part of what is yoga.'  And then complain that they can't nail a scorpion handstand.

Flickr: Energy Yoga Doral


13. Yoga teachers don't get paid enough.
Teaching yoga requires physical discipline; intensive ONGOING training (all of the best teachers I know have multiple certifications/continue to practice with master teachers); knowledge of human anatomy, history, and philosophy; and putting up with a lot of people's crap. Yoga teachers teach their earliest classes at 6:30 AM in some locations...and begin their latest at 8:30PM. They travel all over the place to different studios in most instances and don't get benefits, much less compensation for gas.

Yet some people assume because lots of rich white people do yoga, therefore all yoga teachers are rich.  I'm not a yoga teacher myself, but when I read that the average salary of a yoga teacher IN NEW YORK CITY is between $35,000-$40,000, my first thought is 'that is not nearly enough,' really.  I kind of sometimes wonder if the fact that most yoga teachers are women plus the tendency of our society to think that teachers don't deserve high salaries (because they are supposed to do it 'for the love of the kids,' which makes them totally greedy to want more money, unlike say an investment banker) is one reason no one questions this.  Yes, simplicity, not wanting anything but the clothes on your back, asceticism, blah, blah, blah.  But not paying someone a fair wage (or making it clear to yoga teachers who come to training how much they can realistically make on average) just isn't fair.

14. Some people who are reading this are thinking: "she might go to class, but she is clearly never doing yoga."
Whatever the hell that means.




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gluten-free, sugar-free 'paleo' almond butter muffins


I've never been a trend-setter or a follower of trends. Not because I am a morally superior person, but simply because I'm so bad at being trendy.  My style is firmly mid-90s. Minimalist, lots of blacks, greys, accents of whites, bright reds, and blues. It was mid-90s even when I was five years old in 1979.  Although I grew up in the 80s, whenever I wore stretch pants or midriff-baring shirts or a scrunchie in my hair, I always felt like I was performing a role or wearing a costume. Sadly, the coolness of a girl in the 80s was determined by the size of the scrunchie her hair-sprayed skull was able to support.

But I wanted to be a trend-setter.  True story, one of my proudest accomplishment came in the 5th grade, when I single-handedly started a marble fad on the playground. I didn't mean to do so when I bought my bag of marbles to school. I was a natural collector, like many children (stickers, My Little Ponies, plastic bracelets, Polly Pockets). My mother had given me her collection of pretty, solid-hued marbles, and I had added to it with a newer collection of sparked glass marbles. I brought it in to show it off like a casket of false jewels.  My friends and I played with the marbles the first day, not for keeps, but for fun, but the next day one girl brought in a bag of her own marbles and soon lots of the girls--even some of the boys--were joining in the fun and we were playing competitively.

Marbles is the perfect game for middle school. It is social, but still requires focus and concentration on the physical activity of shooting so no one gets too bitchy. It is a blend of luck and skill, so it lends itself to harmless superstitious rituals. It is acquisitive and dependent upon 'collecting' toys, but the toys aren't worth so much that the game gets crazy-serious.

Everyone soon forgot that it was I who started the fad, but I cherished the knowledge long after, even though there were girls and boys far more skilled than I at the game.

Another trend--one I didn't begin--that has been rocking the food world is the paleo diet. Although I run a baking blog, for most of my meals, I really have been embracing making unprocessed organic meats, non-starchy vegetables, and nuts the mainstay of my diet and reducing my consumption of grains. (I really am not a big fan of rice or pasta, anyway).

I'm not a fanatic--I still have the occasional treat (as you can see from this blog) and you'll have to pry my Greek yogurt out of my cold, dead hands before I give that up.  But I do feel so much better, versus the days when I would eat oatmeal for breakfast, apples, bananas, and chocolate for snacks, sweet potatoes and rice and bean burgers for lunch and dinner...and I really to think I am stronger and leaner as a result.

So I was intrigued at the idea of making 'paleo' muffins,' as a way of baking something I could eat everyday without getting that draggy, carb-ed out feeling that used to be my normal state of being. 



These muffins are made of almond butter, eggs, and baking soda.  You could use any nut butter, although peanut butter is 'officially' prohibited on the paleo diet because peanuts are legumes.  You could also add some sugar, if you like.  Since I baked them with some jam, these do have a little sugar in them, but I used homemade jam without corn syrup or additives.



I won't lie to you--they don't taste EXACTLY like fancy, butter-and-sugar infused muffins.  They have more of a bread-like texture than a muffin-like texture.

But for a nice healthy treat, slathered with a moderate amount of butter, it's a great way to 'have your cake yet go paleo too,' in the morning, and save up your indulgence carbs for some cookies later in the week.

Trendy as the little rainbow and unicorn erasers I collected in middle school?  Perhaps, but I think the basic principles of paleo are pretty sound, and even if you don't, these are fun and easy to make for someone who can't consume flour for whatever reason.

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free 'Paleo' Almond Butter Muffins

--yields 1 dozen muffins, adapted from The Saucy Cook--

Ingredients
1 cup of unsweetened almond butter (or nut butter of your choice--you can even use commercial peanut butter, although the muffins won't technically be paleo or sugar free)
4 large, beaten eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

6 teaspoons of jam (or other add-ins)

Directions
 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. Incorporate almond butter with eggs thoroughly.
3. Add baking soda, spices.  Pour batter into liners.
4. Fold in 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each muffin, cover with batter, smoothing with a knife or back of a spoon.
5. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick can be extracted 'clean'


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pistachio Ribbon Bars

Yesterday wasn't a life-shatteringly catastrophic day, but one of those garden variety crappy days.

I went to the dentist's for my six-month cleaning, and despite my sugary past, I have pretty good teeth, so I passed with a clean bill of health.  Things would have been much worse if I needed expensive dental work, but dangerously I had enough time in the waiting room to read Elizabeth Wurtzel's  article in New York magazine about how miserable she is at age 44.  Wurtzel, as you might know, wrote a best-selling book called Prozac Nation about how depressed and unhappy she was, despite getting into Harvard and having a career as a successful music journalist.  Then she got another book contract to write Bitch, wrote the entire book high on drugs, and wrote her third book called More, Now, Again about how she wrote Bitch while on drugs.  Then she went to Yale Law School on a lark (the most difficult law school to get into in the country), mysteriously got employed by a top firm, and is still totally miserable and has no savings because she blew so much of her royalties on blow, heroin, and Birkin bags.

Clearly, I have done something wrong in my writing life compared to Wurtzel, since I carry around a canvas bag and worry more about the bill than the drill at the dentist.

After bad day some people turn to 'comfort food' like potato chips, macaroni and cheese, or pizza. But I'm no longer the carb zealot (thank goodness) I was in the past, when I would hole up in my bedroom eating sour cream potato chips and creamy onion dip.  There was a book I loved as a kid called The Pistachio Prescription  by Paula Danziger in which the heroine Cassandra decides that eating pistachios is the best way to make yourself feel better, even when Cassie accidentally plucks out almost all of her eyebrows and has to go to school in sunglasses for weeks.

Based upon my literary comparison of Cassie versus Wurtzel, I decided on 'pistachios over Prozac'  (as well as other, more illicit substances). 

I admit to be slightly addicted to salty nuts as an adult, and convince myself that this is healthier than the HoHos and Ritz crackers slathered with peanut butter I used to favor in my youth to make me feel better. 

These pistachio ribbon bars are both salty and sweet, so they can answer either craving you might have after a bad day. Of course, they do contain some carbs, but one or two of these won't do nearly as much damage as bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

I adapted this recipe from the Land O' Lakes website. Land O' Lakes has some of the best recipes on the web, perhaps it is because it is a company that produces an 'ingredient,' so most of the recipes are largely 'from scratch.'  There was one complaint in the comments that the bars were too 'gooey,' but I omitted the glaze suggested in the original recipe. Glaze seemed quite literally like gilding the pistachio lily. I also slightly reduced the amount of pistachios and used salted rather than unsalted pistachios (and omitted the salt from the batter itself as a result).  

Oh, and I used my friend's homemade strawberry jam, which contains some sriracha, but you can use any type of strawberry (or raspberry) jam. Or make your own spicy jam.


Pistachio Ribbon Bars

--adapted from Land 'O Lakes, yields 18-20 bars--

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, slightly softer than room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup salted, shelled pistachios
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line a 9X9 pan with parchment
2. Cream butter and sugar, fold in flour
3. Divide batter in 1/2.   Press 1/2 of batter into pan (use additional parchment to flatten surface). Bake for 13 minutes.
4. Fold pistachios into remaining batter.
5. Remove bottom layer from oven.  Spread with strawberry jam.  Top with the batter that contains the pistachios.
6. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ginger Yogurt Pound Cake With a Jam Glaze

I grew up eating Sara Lee and Entenmann's pound cakes from boxes so I learned very late in life the origins of the term 'pound cake.'   Historically,  pound cakes were said to be made with a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs, and a pound of butter. Since they contained no leavening, the original cakes must have been pretty dense. Most modern recipes have a slightly different ingredient ratio in deference to modern tastes and to make them less doorstop-like. But Martha Stewart has tried 'the original' and made it work, and the comments for that recipe are pretty positive.

For a long time, I smugly thought that I knew everything about pound cake, until I recently came across the factoid that French pound cakes rarely have the classic ratio at all and are often make with whole milk yogurt. A friend of mine loves pound cake and I'm obsessed with Fage whole milk yogurt, so of course I had to make a 'French' pound cake.



Apparently, making such yogurt cakes in France is something that everyone knows how to do, kind of like how everyone knows the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe in the U.S. Yogurt cake is one of those things 'you should know' as a basic adult life skill, just like roasting a chicken.


Of course, when it comes to defining what 'everyone should know' in food terms, things get controversial.  When I used to frequent food websites, one of the nastiest knock 'em down fights I witnessed was a post praising Entenmann's pound cake, which prompted many to respond: "DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE POUND CAKE? IT IS SO EASY."

I've been guilty of rolling my eyes and 'wtf-ing,' but not in regards to cooking. 

Some of the prose that hits my desk is so cringe-worthy, filled with so many random capital letters and apostrophes I'm just itching to post it...but professionalism dictates I cannot.  So instead I post stuff like this on Facebook. 

When I come off my metaphorical (as opposed to my literal) high horse (and I'm in a much better mood when I'm on a literal horse, although my seat is still better on the metaphorical one)...I remind myself that no matter how much grammar has degenerated, not just amongst kids but also amongst adults...I have to give myself a poor score on lots of basic types of informational literacy.

How much do I remember of basic math--I mean, math beyond what I need to balance my checkbook and read a graph in the newspaper or the distance on a map?  Can you hear the crickets chirping as I try to recall geometric proofs? I'm sure I'm 'innumerate' to some degree like some people are illiterate...and I doubt I'm alone.

I fare better on other tests of 'basic  knowledge,' such as knowledge of art, music, and theater, and even the natural world and science. (I'm not saying everyone has to be Dr. Wizard, but you should be able to relate to animals in some basic fashion, without poking them or scaring them, and understand when you should take an antibiotic and when you shouldn't).  But I'm not fluent in any language other than English, which is kinda sad, given I have an advanced degree from a pretty prestigious university.

Everyday, in fact, I'm reminded of what I don't know.  I'm just lucky our society often confuses being very verbal with intelligence.  

Looking back, people from a hundred years ago seem far more competent then ourselves.  Can you ride a horse easily as a means of transportation; write extensively in longhand; sew a functional item of clothing; zip through a Dickens novel; plow a field; make candles; play a piano; read Latin and Greek; and do long sums in your head?  I know not every  late19th-early 20th century person could all do this stuff, but I feel pretty confident saying that most of them were probably more self-sufficient than us 21st century folk.  And better able to amuse themselves in the dark. I was getting used to 'life unplugged' when Sandy hit, but I relapsed once again into my Internet addiction pretty quickly.

So, I'm going to try to stop being quite so critical of people's grammar, because there are so many things I don't know how to do. Before I started blogging, I don't think I had ever made a pound cake either.

It's impossible to know EVERYTHING, after all. The times are long gone when it was said that Aristotle knew all that was worth knowing of the known world.

 Although I do have to share with you JUST ONE email I was sent from an editor, when I submitted a recipe to a local publication with a fairly wide distribution.  They informed me that they didn't want to put it into the print version but would include it online and the response looked like this:

sounds yummy!  thanks for your resposnse and I will see that we post your recipe on line.
Thanks so much and feel free to share more with use , We're all one big XXXX family!
Smiles
XXX XXXX (Editor)


Okay, so maybe there are SOME things you should know.  Like the fact that 'online' is one word, and how to make a yogurt poundcake.


Ginger Yogurt (French) Pound Cake With a Jam Glaze

--adapted from Bon Appetit, makes one loaf--






Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted melted butter, cooled
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large beaten eggs

1/4 cup plum (strawberry or blueberry would also work) jam for glaze
1 teaspoon water


Directions

1. Grease a 8x4 or 9x5 loaf pan.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt together.

3. Combine the butter, yogurt, sugar, and eggs.  Incorporate wet and dry. 

4. Pour batter into loaf pan.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick can be extracted clean.

5. Cool completely. 

6. Heat the jam on medium low until thoroughly combined with water and able to be poured over cake.  Glaze cake, spreading with a knife, and let glaze 'set.'  (It will still be sticky, but will adhere to the cake).


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What is your bacon personality?

What is your bacon personality? While most foodies use bacon in a variety of applications, how do you use bacon most often?

Flickr: lynn.gardener
With eggs in the morning: You're probably older and male. Maybe you have a favorite coffee shop where you grab eggs and bacon every day before heading out to the job you've had for the last thirty years. Or your wife makes you breakfast. Then you pass the morning in silence together.  And it's not a good kind of silence. When you go grocery shopping--which is only when your wife is sick--you just grab any box in the frozen foods section labeled 'bacon,' ignoring the brand she told you to buy. Then you make a big deal about the fact you have to go shopping BY YOURSELF to the cashier even though nobody cares. When people look at your food they say, "wow, that looks like a heart attack on a platter" and you have a vague notion that cholesterol is bad and calories are bad but your version of trying to eat healthier is ordering the chicken sandwiches at McDonald's.

Crumbled onto salads: You withhold.  You think crumbled bacon  on a wilted spinach salad is enough--but it's not. You think of yourself as generous and always putting others first but your significant other finds you cold and aloof. He wonders 'what am I doing wrong,' but in this instance, it's not him, it's you. You cook him a perfectly nice meal that you saw Ina Garten make on TV, but what he really wants is to order in the meat lover's pizza from the local Italian joint and to make hot passionate love to you on the sofa while watching the football game.

Flick: konomike
On peanut butter sandwiches: You are the fun, cool mom.  You probably eat these sandwiches with really crispy bacon, toasted, as you read the paper in the morning.  Crispy bacon and slightly burnt rye toast may not be fashionable, but you don't care, just like you don't care about the moms who wear mascara to Parent-Teacher night. You probably eat less healthfully than your kids.  You finish the Jell-O snack pack pudding they don't eat after dinner and raid their bags of Halloween candy for the dark chocolate.  They're healthy and athletic anyway and seem to have a hollow leg, so all of the other kids hate them.

On BLTs: You're very good about rationing out your pleasures to yourself.  You actually like the sanctimonious crunch of the iceberg lettuce against the fat of the bacon, and the icy, healthy sweetness of the tomato. You wear classic clothing and don't mind getting gift certificates at Talbots.  You eat half the sandwich and put the rest in the refrigerator for latter.

In soup: You're a giver.  You care.  You want to feed everyone. You make healthy soup but like the smoky notes the bacon brings to the vegetables and to the leaner cuts of meat like chicken--and ham. You also make decadent chili with crumbled bacon on top.  But you mostly eat standing at the kitchen counter after everyone has finished, sipping the residue from everyone's wine glasses and eating the leftover crackers and cheese from the appetizer plate.

Flickr: jasonlam
With other meats (bacon-wrapped scallops, bacon-wrapped filet mignon): You consider yourself a foodie and you're a bit of a bacon snob.  You're very proud of how much bacon you eat and have all sorts of paraphernalia proclaiming your love of bacon, like a t-shirt that says: "Vegan except for bacon."  Whenever someone says something is good--even the fact that President Obama won a second term as president--you add "but it would be better with bacon."  Dude, there is good bacon and bad bacon.  Greasy, underdone bacon is bad.  If you don't think there is bad bacon, you probably also don't think there are ugly babies, and while no one will say that a baby is ugly, some of them certainly are!

On burgers: You're not much of a sweets person, but you do love your bacon blue cheese burgers.  You could out-drink most of your male friends in college even though you were pretty tiny back then.  You don't remember much of what happened during those years, though, except for the credit card bills your ran up.  You are a 'more is better' kind of a person. Everyone generally likes you and loves when you make your bacon burgers for your summer barbeques.

Flickr: queenkv
On breakfast sandwiches: You are a pretty self-restrained person, but you wish that they served these things all day long, so you could have them with Diet Coke.  Or beer.

With chocolate or in desserts: You get really upset about people who talk about healthy eating and you say things like "love yourself just like you are."  Then you go on crash diets and promptly gain the weight back, eat lots of chocolate and bacon, and the cycle repeats itself. Get over it and restore bacon to its rightful place with things like cheese, eggs, and peanut butter (and not all at once).

Soy bacon: While processed vegetarian chicken patties taste pretty much like regular processed chicken patties and some vegetarian burgers are good, everyone knows that soy bacon is disgusting.  If you eat this stuff, you're really hardcore and trying to prove a point. Even some vegetarians put bacon on their vegan burgers, this stuff is so bad.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ants on a log--with a twist

My friend has a teenage son who plays sports year 'round and is still growing.  She can feed him seventeen pancakes in the morning and he'll be asking what's for lunch around 10am.  (I'm assuming the pancakes are relatively small and not diner-sized stacks, but still...)

In an ideal foodie world, all of us would be teenage boys with raging metabolisms. Since I'm 5'1, my memory of being able to eat whatever I wanted, to never feel full, and to never gain weight and to have incredible athletic performance is like, nonexistent.  And personally, I think it's a pretty rare circumstance, even for men--at best, a fleeting period of one's life.

I've never been on a 'diet diet' in the sense that I've never been on a strict program I had to follow like Weight Watchers. I went to one Weight Watchers meeting when I was eleven.  My mother had a friend named Debbie who was on Weight Watchers and mom always talked about how Debbie would go out for ice cream and pizza after every weigh-in. So I am probably the only person who ever went  to Weight Watchers in the hopes of getting some 'za and something from the Circle Freeze afterward.  When I saw the dreary women in bad pants suits ahead of me, waiting to get weighed I nearly ran out of the dimly-lit community center where the meeting was held, and I didn't run very much back then.  I never went back.

Another 'diet' that was suggested to me was also when I was a kid--it was a Xeroxed sheet being passed around my mother's office--went something like this:

Breakfast:
1 slice of toast
1/2 tablespoon of butter
1/2 grapefruit
1 cup coffee or tea with 1 packet of sweetener (optional)

Lunch:
4 ounces of lean beef, chicken, or turkey
1/2 cup string beans
1/2 cup beets

Dinner:
4 ounces of lean beef, chicken, or turkey
1/2 cup string beans
1/2 cup beets
1/2 dinner roll and 1/2 tablespoon of butter

And so forth, with slight variations on this theme for the next three days (I believe on day 2 you were allowed cottage cheese rather than meat, for example, and a half banana and cereal for breakfast on one of the days).

 At the bottom of the 'diet' it noted that NO SUBSTITUTIONS were allowed, although I can't fathom why the diet designer picked beans and beets as the 'vegetable' component of the diet.   You were also supposed to do the diet for three days, then skip a day, then resume it "because you lose weigh so fast." It was implied that the food combinations had some magical powers, although it's obviously just a very low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet.

I also remember reading about a diet in a book called The Revolution of Mary Leary, about a fat girl who went on a diet that consisted of eggs, cottage cheese, and a steak every day and lost crazy amounts of weight because it was low-carb.  At the time, I couldn't fathom life without chocolate, but now that diet doesn't seem too bad.  Although I would have to throw some broccoli in there, somewhere.

Usually, in the food blogging word, the blogger posts a few 'diet' foods and then shifts back to cupcakes, but I think for a little while I'm going to be posting more of the foods I eat on a regular basis, like pistachios and almond butter, in case any of my readers are starting to eat a little bit healthier.

I've been told "ants on a log" is a popular, healthy childhood staple.

Ants-on-a-log
Photo credit: mmmunchonthis
 Of course, I never ate it because even my mother would never have been so foolish as to try to give me celery. Even today I find the idea of raisins, peanut butter, and celery kind of icky, even though I like those food items on their own. 

I find less sweet almond butter and salty pistachio nuts on celery to be a much tastier combination.  I like using the celery as a vehicle for the almond butter and pistachios because it slows down my nut consumption, and I have the frightening ability to inhale nuts at a very rapid clip.

I guess you could call this: "beetles on a log," given the bright green color of the pistachios.

Beetles On A Log

Ingredients

3-6 stalks of cut celery
1-2 tablespoons of almond butter
1-2 tablespoons of pistachios

Directions
1. Spread the almond butter in the middle of the pieces of celery

2. Dot the pistachios on top of the almond butter.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I am interviewed by A Foodie World

What a great way to begin the New Year!  The Hong Kong-based magazine A Foodie World interviewed me for one of its January 2013 feature articles.  You can read the online interview here.
Flickr: bekiwithian (apparently the white stuff is the vegetarian versions of burgers and sausages)

As the title indicates "Confessions of an ex-vegetarian" is all about my fourteen years as a vegetarian, as well as some other foodies' experiences on the non-meat-eating side of the foodie fence.

Fourteen years is a long time.  Until I did the interview I didn't even realize just how long I was a vegetarian.  I have to say that while I wish I could take back many of my unwise 'life choices' I don't feel particularly bad about being a vegetarian for that long, nor am I particularly proud of it.

It would be interesting, though, to know what my body would look like now if I had been able to adopt a healthy diet when I was twenty-three--working out, not eating massive amounts of carbohydrates, eating mostly 'real food' like I do now--rather than what I did do.

Other than the fact that I never shared a steak with my mother before she died, I don't have many food regrets.  Well, that's not true--I do regret a lot of the solitary eating I did in middle school, high school and college involving candy, cake, doughnuts, and diner take-out. Those were a lot of joyless calories that got in the way of me really living my life. I guess for people who don't have the constitution or inclination to be heavy drinkers, stuffed French toast is as close as we'll get to a long weekend.

Flick: karen_neoh


I'm tempted to say that food that is shared is never to be regretted, but that wouldn't be accurate either.  I've enjoyed many solitary meals and hated many social ones.  I guess the exact 'prescription' for every person's diet is that delicate balance of 'just the right food, in just the right quantity, at just the right time, for just the right reason.'  Which can be so hard to strike.

Do you have any food regrets about the way you ate in the past?